« PreviousContinue »
§ 4. Summary of the dialogue. A. Chap. I. Dedication to Atticus. B.
II.-IV. Prelude to the dialogue. C. Chap. V.—XXVI. Discourse of Laelius. D.
XXVII. Epilogue. A. § 1.
Cicero's acquaintance with the Scaevolae. § 2. Scaevola, the augur, happened to speak one day of a notorious quarrel between two quondam friends, P. Sulpicius Rufus and Q. Pompeius. [Sulpicius was originally on the aristocratic side, but being plebeian tribune in 88 B.C., he became a tool of Marius and proposed some revolutionary laws. His former friend Pompeius was consul, and vigorously opposed him. In a fight, the son of Pompeius was slain; after which Sulla entered the city with an army and Sulpicius was killed.] § 3. This led Scaevola to report a conversation concerning friendship which Laelius had held with his two sons-in-law, Scaevola himself and Fannius. This conversation Cicero has freely rendered. § 4. The work is done at the request of Atticus, and is now presented to him, as the Cato maior had been. Cato was the most suitable Roman to speak of old age; and Laelius, whose intimacy with Scipio was far-famed, to speak of friendship. § 5. The whole speech of Laelius will remind Atticus of his own characteristics as a friend. The conversation takes place a few days after the death of Africanus the younger (129 B.C.).
B. $$ 6, 7. Fannius. 'All men are asking how you, Laelius, whom men call wise by a better title than that of Cato, bear the death of your friend. It was remarked that you missed the meeting of the augurs lately.'
$$ 8—10. Scaevola. 'I have told inquirers that your health, and not your sorrow, prevented you from attending.'
Laelius. 'Right; no private reason must ever withdraw a consistent man from his duty. You are wrong, Fannius, about Cato. If ever any man deserved the title wise, he did.'
$$ 10—12. 'I am indeed touched by Scipio's death, but the sting is removed by the thought that I only, not Scipio, am the sufferer. His life was splendid, his death was happily speedy;
he closed his days in a blaze of glory. $$ 13-15. In spite oi new-fangled philosophies, I believe, with our forefathers and with Socrates, that the soul lives after death. Scipio believed so too, and as though he felt death coming, treated of the matter at the end of a three days' discourse on the best form of government, which he held a few days before he died. He then recited a communication he had received in a dream from the elder Africanus. [The Somnium Scipionis formed the greater part of the VIth book of Cicero's work De re publica, and has come down to us entire. Early in this century Cardinal Mai discovered a manuscript containing considerable portions of the remainder of the work. Cicero intended the book to give a picture of the ideal statesman in the person of Scipio.] Even if death extinguishes the soul, it does no harm. It is therefore well with Scipio, however it be. My life has been happy because I lived it with Scipio, and I care more for the memory of our friendship to remain for all time, than I do for my name sapiens to which I have no just claim.'
§ 16. Fannius. “Both Scaevola and myself would be delighted if you would tell us what you think of the nature of friendship and what maxims you lay down for its regulation.'
C. The discourse of Laelius may be divided into five portions.
1. $$ 17—25. Preliminary.
C. 1. Laelius complies with the request of his sons-in-law but says less than they expected and desired.
Laelius. § 17. 'I am no Greek philosopher; therefore scarce equal to the serious task you impose. I can only give you a practical exhortation to value friendship above all human possessions. $$ 18, 19. Friendship is only possible between good men. I use the term in its popular sense, not in its Stoic
Men of high morality I call good.—There are various grades in association, as between citizens and citizens, citizens
and foreigners, relatives and strangers. Friendship is a stronger thing than natural association. § 20, 21. It means entire agreement coupled with kindliness and affection, and is the most glorious gift of the gods, though some misguided men prefer riches, pleasure, and the like. Virtue in the ordinary, not the Stoic sense, is the essential condition of friendship. SS 22—24. The splendour of friendship almost passes description; in particular, it never allows hope to die. All life depends on friendship; Empedocles even says it is the bond of the universe. Even the vulgar do homage to it as exemplified in the persons of Orestes and Pylades on the stage.'
"Now I have said all I can, for the rest you must go to the Greeks.'
§ 25. Fannius and Scaevola insist on a further exposition.
C. 2. Laelius, § 26. “What is the foundation of friendship? Nature, not utility. $ 27. The inclination to affection appears in the lower animals, and is especially conspicuous in man, when between two individuals there is compatibility of disposition and virtue draws them together. $$ 28-30. Virtue can even attract us in an enemy; how much more in the men we know and meet? Reciprocal services strengthen affection but do not originate it. Africanus, for example, could have done without my services. $ 31. Friendship is not based on the hope of reward. $ 32. The philosophers who deduce everything from the desire for pleasure are wrong. True friendships are eternal, which they would not be if they sprang from so shifting a thing as utility
C. 3. § 33. 'Scipio said that it was very hard for a friendship to last a lifetime, owing to the arising of differences of opinion, or a change of disposition.' $$ 34, 35. Enumeration of
SS , occurrences which may break friendship.
C. 4. $$ 36—76. This part of the discourse may be thus subdivided :
a. $$ 36—44. The question how far a friend is to go in
helping his friend. B. $$ 45—55. Polemic against some false statements of
7. $S 56–61. How to define the right attitude of mind
towards a friend. 8. $$ 62—66. Care necessary in choosing friends. €. $S 67, 68. Are old friends to be preferred to new ? $ $$ 69–76. Perfect equality is necessary in friendship.
C. 4. a. § 36. 'How far is one to go with one's friend? Were the friends of Coriolanus, Vecellinus, Maelius, bound to go all lengths with them? $ 37. Blossius was prepared to burn the Capitol had Ti. Gracchus commanded it; it is, however, never justifiable to commit crime for the sake of a friend. § 38. Had we to do with ideal characters the difficulty would not arise, but we have to do with actual men. § 39. The best Romans have always placed patriotism before friendship. $ 40. Friends must neither ask from each other nor do for each other anything base. In these degenerate days many politicians contradict this rule. $ 41. We must look for still worse things in the future. SS 42, 43. When a friend takes to an unpatriotic course he ought to be abandoned ; if this were done, revolutions would be impossible. § 44. Our first law for friendship is that honour must govern it, and that the authority of friends in admonition and expostulation should meet with due recognition.'
C. 4. B. $ 45. 'Some Greeks say that friendships should not be too close lest they lead into trouble and anxiety. § 46. Others declare that friendship is only sought after for the sake of assistance and freedom from care. § 47. These theories destroy friendship, since pain as well as pleasure is inseparable from it. § 48. Those who try to free themselves from all emotion aim at an absurdity. $$ 49—51. Utility has its place in friendship, but nature is the foundation. $$ 52—55. These Greek speculators must be discountenanced; who would choose to abound with prosperity if deprived of friends? That would be the life of a despot, the most miserable of all lives. It is folly to desire all possessions excepting the most valuable—a friend:
S$ 56–61. Three false definitions of friendly feeling are criticised and rejected; Laelius then promises to give.
C. 4. y
his own, but first quotes Scipio's condemnation of a saying attributed to Bias, that in loving a friend one ought to keep in view the possibility of hating him some day or other. Then he gives his definition of the proper attitude of friend to friend. 'If friends are of high character, they should have all things in common; if one swerves from rectitude and endangers his life or reputation, the other should support him, if he can do so without incurring extreme disgrace.'
C. 4. 8. § 62.' "Men are utterly careless in choosing friends. -$ 63. It is wise not to confer friendship without some experience and trial of the persons on whom it is to be conferred. The mark of a true friend is that he prefers friendship to all else in the world. $ 64. Ambition is the greatest test; change of fortune the next. $$ 65, 66. One must look for loyalty above all things, then frankness, affability and compatibility, and unsuspiciousness; then sweetness of character and conversation.'
6. $$ 67, 68. “The older a friendship is, the more valuable it is, yet new and promising friendships are not to be rejected.'
C. 4. §. $$ 69, 70. “The man of superior station or advan tages of whatever kind must treat his friends as equals. $$ 71, 72. The friend who is at a disadvantage must be careful not to bear himself as an inferior. § 73. In imparting advantages to a friend, you must look both to your own powers and to the character and position of your friend. § 74. The friendships we most value are those formed in mature life; we are not bound to give the first place to the friends of our boyhood, though they must not be neglected. $ 75. We must not allow any violence of temper to prevent a friend from imparting to us a benefit.'
C. 5. $76. 'In friendships of the commoner order, the faults of one sometimes bring disgrace on the other. Such friendships must be gently severed. S$ 77, 78. If a disagreement of views developes itself, we must avoid allowing the friendship to change into open enmity. § 78. To escape these mishaps we must be extremely cautious in entering on friendships. $$ 79, 80. Men by looking first for advantage, miss the true friend. $ 81. Even the beasts might teach us that this is wrong. $ 82. Friendship